8th Annual High Country Economic Kickoff Luncheon: Event Highlights

Posted By: Megan Biddix Chamber News,

A sold-out audience of over 300 Watauga County business leaders attended the 8th Annual High Country Economic Kickoff Luncheon on Wednesday, January 10, at the Grandview Ballroom on the campus of Appalachian State University.

The Boone Area and Blowing Rock Chambers of Commerce and the Watauga Economic Development Commission proudly served as co-hosts of this event. Peak Insurance Group returned as the title sponsor, and additional event support came from Appalachian Commercial Real EstateAllen Wealth ManagementSkyline National BankDMJPS PLLCFrontier Natural Gas, and 4 Forty Four.

Dr. Harry Davis, NC Bankers' Association Professor

Keynote presenter, Dr. Harry Davis, delivered his 2024 High Country Economic Forecast. A regionally renowned economist and banking industry legend, he serves as both Dean and Instructor for the North Carolina School of Banking. 

"Employment is strong, consumer spending is strong and continues to keep the economy going, real hourly earnings continue to grow, the stock market has done well, and it is all just very positive." 

Dr. Davis' Presentation

Gary Salamido, President/CEO, NC Chamber

Gary Salamido discussed current economic development trends impacting rural communities and how the NC Chamber is working to make sure the voice of small business is heard by legislators.

"There is great opportunity, but there is also great challenge. There will be ups and downs. There will be hard times, hard conversations... there is going to be uncertainty. But if we put relationships at the center, and if we agree to disagree in order to move forward, then the ups and downs won't be so high and low."

Gary Salamido's Presentation

Lindsey Sullivan, Health Strategist, AppHealthCare

 Sullivan is the lead facilitator for the STABLE Workplaces initiative, a collaborative community project focused on providing staff training and business leadership to evolving workplaces. She provided an overview of STABLE, and how businesses can engage with the effort after its planned launch.

"Economic stability leads to improved health outcomes for families... we are fortunate in Watauga County because there are many groups that can contribute resources to the workplace on a wide range of topics." 

The Boone Area Chamber of Commerce recognized the recipients for the 2023 Watauga County Business of the Year Awards, presented by Carolina Mountain TitleMOLTOX, Inc was recognized as Large Business of the Year. Baker Forge & Tool was recognized as Small Business of the Year. Mountain Elite All-Star Cheer & Tumbling was recognized as Start-Up Business of the Year.

Business North Carolina also presented
 VPC Builders with its 2023 North Carolina Small Business of the Year award. This honor was originally presented as part of the 28th annual Business North Carolina Small Business of the Year Award Luncheon, held in Chapel Hill, NC on December 8, 2023.

Photo Album

For more information about the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce, please contact David Jackson at 828-264-2225, or by email at david@boonechamber.com.